Fill these darkening chambers,
Drink forth the light from the candle's flame.
Speech and song fall mute
Smothered in a veil of desolate darkness,
Suffocated with silent tears.
The air grows still and heavy
As the wind
Surrenders its whisper to the bleak bone chill of night.

What utterance would conquer this blackness?
The queen of the night seals my lips with nameless sorrow
And bows my head in breathless, exquisite sadness:
A psalm for all who languish in the coils of solitude,
Weeping tears never falling
Sobbing cries concealed behind a stoic mask,
Yearning for a light unborn,
A word yet unspoken, a promise yet unbroken,
A dream, a dying image, a fading strain of melody
That pealed in a youthful splendor once
Through the mountains and the forests,
Spreading its warmth over roof and steeple,
Now transfigured to a dead stroke of iron.

Word and wit but desecrate this solemn shrine of death,
Heap scorn on you, my brothers, my sad sisters;
You who have been forsaken, crushed and trod under,
Back broken on the bloody wheel of time and men,
Perjured by promises of life,
Promises of hope and tradition and faith,
Perfidious promises that affront and appall
With smoke and reedy laughter.
I forsake my voice for yours:
Tears of joyless wisdom;
My song for yours:
Dirge of infinite shadow;
My earth for yours:
Realm of chronic night.
I celebrate you, my brothers, my sad sisters
As brave heroes martyred,
And kneel to exult you in this shattered temple.
What greater hymn could I sing in your name
Than that which no words could taint?

George Chadderdon © 2000